Influence of Emotional Expression on Memory Recognition Bias

Influence of Emotional Expression on Memory Recognition Bias: A Functional Magnetic
Resonance Imaging Study
Karine Sergerie, Martin Lepage, and Jorge L. Armony
Biol Psychiatry. 2007 May 31

Background: Most studies of the influence of emotion on memory performance have focused on accuracy. However, there is evidence that emotion can influence other aspects of memory, in particular response bias (overall tendency to classify items as new or old regardless of the accuracy of the response). Here, they investigate the behavioral and neural-related modulation of response bias by emotion.

Methods: Nineteen healthy individuals performed a recognition memory task on faces with happy, sad, and neutral expressions while undergoing functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI).

Results: A familiarity (tendency to say “old”) and novelty (tendency to say “new”) bias for sad and happy faces, respectively. Novelty response bias was associated with amygdala and prefrontal cortex activity, whereas familiarity bias correlated with superior temporal gyrus activation.

Conclusions: The results show that emotional expressions can have an influence on memory beyond simple accuracy and that this effect is in part mediated by the amygdala, a region previously implicated in emotional perception and memory. Important clinical relevance since it explains some of the inconsistencies in the literature regarding emotional memory deficits in psychiatric populations.

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